By Mark Hodge @Mrhodgey
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The incredible pictures show the pair of hungry adolescent cats attempting to hunt the much larger mammal.
But the hippo dramatically turns the tables on the young predators and sends them scarpering with a ferocious charge.
The altercation was captured by researcher Brent Stapelkamp in Zimbabwe’s Hwange National Park.
Snapper Brent, 37, has been studying the activities and behaviour of lions in the reserve for years.
He said: “The two male lions in the photos are just three-years-old and left their pride a few days before these shots were taken.
“As far as we can tell they have not eaten anything since they left and this incident was probably their first try at self-catering.
“The lions attempted to catch the large calf, but the hippo quickly ran to the safety of the water.
“As the lions walked away the cocky hippo showed them who’s boss and charged right back at the two cats causing them to scatter.”
Brent explained that as the pair of lions mature they will become more adept at hunting prey.
He said: “As brothers these two will no doubt stick together in their dispersal and form a coalition which has a better chance of securing territory.
“They will soon learn that rather than catching large prey like this hippo calf, they are probably better off eating warthogs and young giraffe first.
“The hippo was actually not scared at all, no doubt secure in the knowledge that mum was just meters away ready to help out.”